I’ve always been one of those kids that does a sport. Since I was little, Mum put me in a heap of different teams and codes- footy, athletics, soccer, volleyball and tennis. I was always taught the importance of getting out there and having a go, of being a part of a team and staying active.

All through high school I was pretty sporty. I would pack my training gear in with my school books and walk to the field after school for training. I joined school teams, went to sports carnivals and would kick a ball around with my mates up on the oval at lunch or after school.

Even at sports I was shit at, I’d always be the one having a go at the sports carnival (probably making a dickhead of myself), racking up points for my sport house and staring down rivalry schools at comps.

Even though I had to miss a few classes here and there for tournaments, my teachers and parents were pretty happy with my average grades and the amount of study I was doing. Until I hit Year 12.

Suddenly, everyone was telling me I needed to give up sport if I wanted to do well. In the eyes of my Bio teacher sport was ‘a waste of time’ and when I handed in my Maths homework late because I’d spent Sunday arvo playing a game instead of studying, my teacher told me it was time to ‘seriously reassess my priorities’.  My mum started stressing that if I didn’t give up sport then I would get a bad ATAR and ruin my chances of going to uni. Teachers told me I needed to focus more on my studies, that this was the year to knuckle down and concentrate on studying; no distractions allowed.

Looking back, there’s only one thing to say: thank fuck I ignored them.

Playing sport is one of the only things (alongside the occasional Netflix binge and massive 18th) that got me through Year 12.

My scheduled training sessions meant I had to take study breaks whether I wanted to or not. It gave me a chance to get out of my room and forget about Maths formulas and English techniques, even just for a little while.

Every weekend me and my mates would rock up to a game and take out our stress on the other team. We would fuck around and make jokes during the warm up, forgetting about the fact that we had exams coming up and should be freaking out. When we got out on the field we were focused on the game, not whether we had revised enough for the upcoming test or finished our essay. When our coach yelled at us we weren’t thinking about our ATAR or pumping out an essay in forty minutes, we were trying to work out a way to beat the other team and put away a win.

Yeah, sometimes it meant I was smashing out an essay that I’d left to the last minute before a game and sometimes I wished I could skip a session to catch up on the pile of homework I had. But at the end of the day, if I hadn’t kept playing sport, I don’t know if I would have been able to make it through the stress and pressure that comes with Year 12.

If nothing else, basic science says sport is good for ya. The whole endorphins thing is going to keep you happy and boost your mood, so you won’t spend your entire year in a shitty slump.

So don’t listen to anyone when they say you have to give up your sport for school. If sport is going to get you through Year 12, ignore what everyone says and stick with it, trust me.